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September 5, 2018

New Mexico Blueprint for Smart Justice reveals state of NM corrections system, provides a roadmap to reform

ALBUQUERQUE, NM— The ACLU of  New Mexico today released a report that outlines how the state can cut incarceration in half and reallocate over 450 million dollars toward schools, services, and other resources that would strengthen communities and increase public safety.  The report is a part of the ACLU’s Smart Justice 50-State Blueprints project — a comprehensive, state-by-state analysis of how states can transform their criminal justice system.

“For too long, the United States has responded to drug addiction, mental illness, and poverty with prison,” said ACLU of New Mexico Smart Justice Coordinator Barron Jones. “This approach has made us the world’s leading incarcerator, and yet it hasn’t made us any safer.  In fact, in New Mexico, as our prison population has skyrocketed, crime rates have only grown.”

The reports, developed in partnership with the Urban Institute and tailored to each state, will be released in multiple phases, beginning with an initial rollout of 24 reports.

The Blueprint for New Mexico reveals one in four incarcerated people in the state is treated for a serious mental illness on any given day, and approximately 85 percent of those imprisoned suffer from substance abuse problems.  It also shows New Mexico’s criminal justice system is rife with racial disparity. 61% of the prison population is Hispanic, compared to 44% of the overall population, and black people are incarcerated at six times the rate of white people.

“Mass incarceration has damaged communities, torn families apart, and wasted billions of taxpayer dollars,” said Jones. “The bottom line is, it’s time we prioritize people over prisons.”

The Blueprints offers a calculation on the impact of certain reforms by 2025 on racial disparities in the prison population, fiscal costs, and overall prison population and progress towards a 50% decarceration goal.  

The report is available here:



The ACLU Campaign for Smart Justice is an unprecedented, multiyear effort to reduce the U.S. jail and prison population by 50 percent and to combat racial disparities in the criminal justice system. We are working in all 50 states for reforms to usher in a new era of justice in America. The ACLU Campaign for Smart Justice is fighting in the legislatures, the courts, and in the streets to end mass incarceration.


For more information about the ACLU’s Campaign for Smart Justice: